Social Media Helps Farmers Avoid Food Waste

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12 August, 2013

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From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

On World Environment Day in June, the United Nations reported that at least one third of all food produced is wasted. The report came at a time when many people are concerned about how to feed a growing world population.

In the United States, Farmers who are struggling to earn money find the situation difficult to deal with. The United States Department of Agriculture found that more than half of the small farms in California do not make a profit.

One California farm family is using social media in an effort to change the situation and reduce wasted food. Nick Papadopoulos is general manager of Bloomfield Farms in Sonoma County. It was difficult for him to watch his employees returning from several weekend farmers' markets with top quality unsold produce.

Mr Papadopoulos said he would find boxes of leafy greens, herbs and carrots left in a storage area. The vegetables would go bad before the next market day. As a result, Mr Papadopoulos came up with a plan to offer the food at a low price by advertising it on the farm's Facebook status page on Sunday nights.

The deals were open to anyone using the social media website. One week, several  homeowners in a neighboring community bought the vegetables. Another week, the buyers were a group of friends.

Nick Papadopoulos began using social media after he went to work on a farm belonging to his wife's father. One night, he began thinking about the issue of wasted food, when he could not find a place to donate 32 cases of organic broccoli. He ended up giving some of the food to chickens and using the rest to make fertilizer.

"I don't believe we should let it go to waste, I believe we should share it, donate it, whatever it takes to get it out there, and if possible, as farmers, we would like to recover a small portion of our cost."

After his success using Facebook, Mr Papadopoulos helped to set up a website called cropmobster.com, it is a place where people involved with food production, feeding the hungry. And those who want to buy locally grown food can find surplus produce.

Since March, the website has prevented more than 20,000 kilograms of food from going to waste.

Have you ever used the Internet to buy or sell crops? If so, tell us about your  experience. You can leave a message on our Facebook page or visit our website 51voa.com.

And that's the Agriculture Report from VOA Learning English, I'm Karen Leggett.